We are here again with another jolly article! In this article, we will bring you to Nepal where they hold a special day dedicated to man’s best friends: dogs!
It is called Kukur Tihar, or also known as days of dogs in Nepal, an annual tradition as it is a part of Diwali celebrations. Diwali itself is a long ceremony that takes about 5 days, occurred in late October to early November, and Kukur Tihar occurs on the second day. Kukur Tihar is an annual event where people gather and worship dogs of all kinds, whether it is a pet or stray dogs. Dogs are adorned with flowers, garlands, and gulal and they are treated with lots of their favorite foods from meat, dog food, milk, and more! Can you imagine how happy they are? So here’s a glimpse of what happened during the festival. Let’s get started!
Get to know Kukur Tihar “days of dogs” : in Nepal
Dewali and Human’s relationship with Gods and Animals
Kukur Tihar is the part of Dewali. Dewali or Tihar is a five-day-long festival of Hindu and part of Nepal tradition. In fact, Tihar is the second biggest festival in Nepal after Dashain. This annual festival begins with Kaag Tihar and ends with Bhai Tika that are set in the Bikram Samvat calendar. Dewali is also popular as the festival of lights because they light a lot of lamps or diyas at night during the event. They believe the lights from the lamps will urge Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth to visit their house, and they also decorate their living room floor or their outdoor yard with feet patterns of Laxmi by using colored rice, sands, dry flour, or pretty flower petals to welcome the Goddess. They will also pray to Laxmi to bless them. However, Dewali is not only about lights and Gods or Goddesses, but also about preaching the relationship between humans and animals, especially dogs, cows, and crows.
Dogs in Hindu
Kukur Tihar is a dedicated day for dogs the moment when people acknowledge and cherish humans relationships with dogs. Dogs are one of the sacred animals in Hinduism. The story about dogs is recounted in the Mahabharata. It is told that a manifestation of Lord Shiva called Bhairava had a dog as a vahana, the vehicle or steed. Dogs are also associated with Yama, the God of Death. It is believed that Yama has two dogs that guard and watch over the gates of Naraka or Hell.
Dogs are also believed to have a special bond and loyalty with humans as they accompany us on our way to heaven. Still in the Mahabharat, it is told that the Pandavas set out their final journey to Swarga or heaven and a dog follows them on the journey. Later on, Yudisthira lost his wife and brothers, but the dog remained loyal to him until the gate of Swarga. Yudhistira refused to enter heaven if it is not with his loyal dog. This is the historical background of why Hindu worship dogs and hold Kukur Tihar every year.
What happens during Kukur Tihar?
Kukur Tihar literally means the worship of dogs. The main reason for all the events during Kukur Tihar is to devote and honor any kind of dog. Hindu will dedicate the whole day to tribute them and to give them special treatment so they all feel happy and loved.
During the festival, people home-owned dogs, stray dogs, and even working dogs like police dogs will be adorned with sacred attributes such as malla or flower garlands around their neck and painted with tikka or red-colored powder on their forehead. They will also take part in the festival march and have a big feast with their favorite foods, from meat, dog food, milk, cookies, and all the best of everything!
Just like what we have talked earlier, Diwali or the festival of lights is not only to celebrate and give tribute to dogs. The day of dogs only occurs on the second day of Diwali. The first day is the day to worship crows, the third day is dedicated to cows, and the fourth day is to worship human beings, oxen, and mountains. People dedicate days for all these creatures because they have been very helpful for their daily life, so basically it is the moment for them to be thankful for all the blessings that have been given by Gods through animals and natures.
In addition, Kukur Tihar has been adopted in Mexico since 2016. In Mexico, people decorate their dogs and pets with flower garlands and tikas, just like what they do in Kukur Tihar in Nepal, and they march together to Revolution Square in Mexico City. No wonder why other cultures may want to adopt Kukur Tihar festival. We all agree that Kukur Tihar holds valuable meanings behind the festiveness of the event: it is a reminder for us, as human beings, that we have to love and take care of other creatures, including animals such as dogs that have been loyal and helpful to us.
Besides Kukur Tihar, there are lots of festivals dedicated to pet animals. There is cat day that celebrated around the world, especially in Japan with their Nyan Nyan Nyan Day where you can find a lot of cat-themed decorations all over the places, and also ceremony of animal blessings in every October 4 as it is the day of the feast of Saint Francis of Asisi in many catholic churches who honor Saint Francis.
Ideally, we treat our dogs and pour them with our love every single day. They deserved to feel loved and happy. However, attending Kukur Tihar is not a bad idea. In 2020, Dewali and Kukur Tihar will be held on November 13 to 17. So mark your date to witness this lovely and festive event that filled with colors, lights, and surely, puppies!